Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Economy, Foreign Affairs, People & Places » Amnesty Hubs Wrapping Up As Deadline for Applications Approaches
Nov 14, 2022

Amnesty Hubs Wrapping Up As Deadline for Applications Approaches

It’s been running for slightly over three months since it was opened on August second after the Emancipation holiday, but the deadline for the 2022 Amnesty Program is about to come to its cut off point. This coming Saturday, November nineteenth has been chosen as that final date, when for the second consecutive weekend, Dolores Village in Toledo will host another amnesty hub. The event is spearheaded by the International Organization for Migration, I.O.M., and the Belize Immigration and Nationality Department. This past Saturday and Sunday, personnel from both agencies travelled to the far reaches of Toledo District to conduct one of their last hubs. News Five’s Marion Ali went along and filed this report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

They came from far and near, over a hundred migrants who were born in Guatemala but entered Belize illegally some years ago and want to remain here permanently. In the far-flung village of Dolores, fifty-six miles from Punta Gorda, it took almost three hours to reach the Our Lady of Sorrows Primary School where the hub was held. And for many of these people, who came from other remote villages, the distance was longer and the ride was rough, but the importance of getting up in the early hours to travel there was paramount.


Anaval Cucul

Anaval Cucul, Seeking Permanent Residency

“I’m Guatemalan but I want to live in Belize.”


Marion Ali

“How long have you been here?”


Anaval Cucul

“Around eight years.”


Anavel Cucul is just starting out his life, but at age twenty, he has already decided that he wants to make Belize his official home, much like Mercedes Pop and Magdalena Sub, who have been have been here for many more years and have ties to Belize.


Marion Ali

How long has she been in Belize?”


Alvin Pop

Alvin Pop, Mom applied for Amnesty

“Well over twenty-three years now because I’m the oldest child. I feel glad for my mom to have gone through the process and that she will hopefully get her resident card now.”


Santiago Sub

Santiago Sub, Wife Applied for Amnesty

“She is in Belize here from 1990 and. Whenever she gets a good document I know that policeman won’t arrest her, aha.”


The amnesty program came about because the government saw the need to regularize thousands of migrants who are living in Belize illegally. There are several steps that need to be followed when applying for amnesty, and that is where the I.O.M. office in Belize plays a vital role. Their officers and immigration personnel were present for the hub held on Saturday.


Horace Guzman

Horace Guzman, Project Manager, Amnesty Program, Immigration Dept.

“This was the day when the medical tests would have come in, the police record application would have been accepted by somebody who would take them to the police station to apply for their police record.”


Diana Locke

Diana Locke, Head of Office, I.O.M, Belize

“I think we had a good day today. We saw over a hundred and twenty-five people. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to help all of them and we will have to come back here to Dolores because we can’t leave them hanging.”


The geographical location of these secluded parts of Toledo annexes them to the border with Guatemala. All of the applicants on Saturday were born in Guatemala, but because that country has a territorial claim over Belize, they cannot receive Belizean citizenship, regardless of whether they have Belizean spouses and children. Their best bet at this time is permanent residency, which allows them to live and work in Belize.


Horace Guzman

“At this point in time Guatemalans cannot become citizens of Belize until this I.C.J. matter has come to rest. So they will be issued permanent residency status until such time.”


Marion Ali

“Then they can come back and apply?”


Horace Guzman

“Well they can, after five years, pending the resolution of that I.C.J. matter they can apply for citizenship down the road.”


The date to complete all registration filings with the Department of Immigration and Nationality is November thirtieth, but even before that, the last hub, with help from the I.O.M., will take place on November nineteenth.


Diana Locke

“We had one scheduled for the weekend of the hurricane; we had to postpone it. That’s this weekend and now next weekend we’re doing the final hub.”

Marion Ali

“The nineteenth is holiday.”


Diana Locke

“It is a holiday but amnesty is closing on the thirtieth so the holiday has to come back another time for us.”


But there are an estimated twenty-five thousand persons who are still living in Belize illegally who have not taken advantage of the opportunity to seek amnesty. Head of I.O.M’s office in Belize, Diana Locke says the lack of finance and transportation are the main factors why these migrants have been unable to apply.


Diana Locke

“You came with us today, you saw the condition of the road and that road has been repaired and it was really bad, so imagine they don’t have transportation on a frequent basis leaving these villages to come out. I do believe that there are lots of people out there that have not come forward because they don’t have the money to do this part of the service and neither do they believe they can pay at the end.”

Locke says her office has tried to encourage migrants who do not have money to still apply and once they’re approved they can figure out how they would pay. But the number of persons who have made use of the program is believed to be only one-third. So what happens to those who haven’t applied for amnesty when the program closes?


Horace Guzman

“They fall under the realms of the Enforcement Unit of the Immigration Department and they will just have to…”


Marion Ali

“Continue to live under the radar or if they are discovered, be deported?”


Horace Guzman



Marion Ali

“And then that would uproot families because they are parents of Belizean-born children.”


Horace Guzman

“Yes, a decision will have to be made. As to how they will be treated when they are picked up by the Immigration Enforcement Unit.”


Locke says I.O.M. is open to assisting to conduct additional hubs in southern Belize, if the government sees the need to extend the program for another month. Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed